Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book

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By Julia Brenner
Featuring built, unbuilt, and in-progress projects, the new monograph on architectural studio LOT-EK offers an in-depth look at their process of turning shipping containers into incredible, usable spaces.

From The Monacelli Press comes the new book, LOT-EK: OBJECTS + OPERATIONS, which delves into the studio's adaptive reuse process of creating functional living and working spaces out of discarded shipping containers. 

The book itself is visually compelling, with projects "sequenced along a spectrum of color, starting and ending at yellow." It closely examines a variety of 21st-century projects, with each example featured on the left-hand page and a detailed photo from their URBANSCAN project on the right-hand page. The result is a book that moves seamlessly between a macro and micro view of their design philosophy as it applies to transforming discarded materials into functional properties. 

Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 1 of 9 - The c-Home model is available in a "country" or "city" version, ranging from 300 square feet to 1,300 square feet.

The c-Home model is available in a "country" or "city" version, ranging from 300 square feet to 1,300 square feet.


Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 2 of 9 - The c-Home_Country model is made with four 40-foot shipping containers and features an open  living area that’s designed for easy configuration. It can be placed anywhere.

The c-Home_Country model is made with four 40-foot shipping containers and features an open living area that’s designed for easy configuration. It can be placed anywhere.

The yellow shipping container structure shown below illustrates the type of projects embraced by LOT-EK. In this instance, eight shipping containers were reimagined as an educational and community site. The structure is intentionally established along the river edge to "allow its users to be visitors, spectators, and actors...to enduringly activate the riverfront." 

Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 3 of 9 - Apap Open School in Anyang, Korea

Apap Open School in Anyang, Korea

"LOT-EK begins by looking for the dirt everywhere: for the backstage objects, products, and artifacts that enable architecture to exist." -from LOT-EK: Objects + Operations

Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 4 of 9 - Shown here is part of the 15,000-square-foot Bohen Art Foundation in New York City.

Shown here is part of the 15,000-square-foot Bohen Art Foundation in New York City.

An especially innovative project detailed in the book is the award-winning Puma City, a retail, office, bar, and event space comprised of 24 shipping containers that were retrofitted and transformed into "a transportable retail and event venue that travels around the world. The building is fully dismountable and can travel using standard container networks of transportation." The structure has been assembled and disassembled in a number of international locations, from Spain and China to the U.S. 

Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 5 of 9 - Puma City was originally created to travel on a cargo ship  alongside sailboats during the 2008 Volvo Ocean Race.

Puma City was originally created to travel on a cargo ship alongside sailboats during the 2008 Volvo Ocean Race.


Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 6 of 9 - Qiyun Mountain Camp Market in Huangshan, China

Qiyun Mountain Camp Market in Huangshan, China

The book also includes 11 conversations between founding partners Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano, "the topics of which correspond to seven essays by Thomas de Monchaux, all of which can be read sequentially or sampled discontinuously on each page." This is indeed a text that can be examined in its entirety or taken in a project at a time. 

Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 7 of 9 - Qiyun Mountain Camp Market in Huangshan, China

Qiyun Mountain Camp Market in Huangshan, China


Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 8 of 9 - The Qiyun Mountain Camp is an extreme sports and adventure park that sits on a 60-acre property in China. LOT-EK designed the public facilities and services within the park, which includes a 15,000-square-foot restaurant plaza that overlooks a river.

The Qiyun Mountain Camp is an extreme sports and adventure park that sits on a 60-acre property in China. LOT-EK designed the public facilities and services within the park, which includes a 15,000-square-foot restaurant plaza that overlooks a river.

"LOT-EK is a design practice that believes in being unoriginal, ugly, and cheap. Also in being revolutionary, gorgeous, and completely luxurious. LOT-EK believes that these conditions are not contradictions, but are in fact mutually dependent."

Explore the World of Shipping Container Design With a New Architectural Book - Photo 9 of 9 -

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